Anera’s Own Mothers: A Conversation Among Colleagues

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Maggie Forster Schmitz, Anera’s vice president of philanthropy, with her daughters.

In Celebration of Mothers Day in Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and other Arab Countries

By now, we’ve all seen the headlines and know the data. The pandemic has taken a toll on women, especially mothers. Between working and overseeing virtual schooling to juggling child care and elder care, working mothers across the globe have been stretched thin. In the case of the US in particular, women accounted for the entire net loss of jobs in December 2020, while 33 years of gains in workforce participation have been erased.

Anera’s  staff is no exception. In February 2021, the working mothers of Anera gathered in a Zoom meeting to share experiences and offer support to one another. Our geographic locations were different, but the concerns and challenges were universal:

“I used to be able to switch hats – go to work, wear my work hat; come home, wear my mom hat. Now, I have to wear them all, all the time.”

“It is very stressful to be working at home and not be able to give my kids the attention they NEED.”

“I feel very guilty.”

“I have to take care of (be like a mother to) work colleagues as well.”

“I need, I crave, just a little bit of time alone, to myself.”

“Sharing space, laptops and wifi among so many people at home is very difficult.”

“In the struggle for balance, ‘I sometimes feel work always wins.’”

“We need to remind ourselves and others that we need to take care of ourselves first so we can continue to serve others.”

In voicing our struggles and worries, however, we also forged a common bond and were able to validate and support one another. It was therapeutic and almost cathartic to hear others share the same concerns, as well as the appreciation for the flexibility that Anera provides.

Equally important was the message from Anera’s president in the follow up from the conversation. Sean Carroll wrote that “you should not ever feel like you need to apologize for, hide, or ignore the fact that you carry, in addition to your ‘day job,’ the biggest responsibility life and society can give you.”

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